Posts Tagged ‘lengths’

The big 200 and an Italian feast

So it’s my 200th post! Very exciting. I haven’t been swimming in a little while as I’ve had a cold so I’m going to try, from next week, to swim 200 lengths in honour of it. Not all at once. I’ll try a bit each day. I need to do 30 each day, right? Wish me luck!

I’ve got lots of birthdays and excitement this week so am going to give it til Monday to start the challenge. Thanks for staying with me or joining me along the way. It has been lots and lots of fun. To celebrate this milestone and to embrace my recent trip to Italy and in honour of seeing a friend for the first time in ages, I prepared an Italian feast!

I got a beautiful cookbook the other day. The most beautiful cookbook I’ve ever seen.

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It’s full of Venetian recipes and the antipasti section is amazing. In an effort to impress, I insisted on making one of everything!

I finished work at 3pm and had timetabled in when to start everything so that I’d be ready by 7pm. I suddenly realised, at 3.35pm, that I didn’t have almonds for the cantuccini biscuits. I set my white wine and white wine vinegar and juniper berries to boil (for the pickled chicory) then I quickly grabbed my purse and ran down to the shop. I got the almonds and ran back to the house…. When I said ‘I quickly grabbed my purse’, that’s exactly what happened. I grabbed my purse AND NOTHING ELSE! I was locked out. There was no-one else with keys who would be back before 6pm. We had taken the spare key from the next door neighbour because it didn’t work anymore, it was always getting stuck. We kept meaning to get another cut, but didn’t. O no! The next door neighbour walked by and I explained my predicament. We went in her garden to see if I could climb over her fence into my garden and try and figure a way to get in. It’s not really a climb-over-able fence so I was stuck outside, pan boiling inside, on a tight schedule for preparing dinner, with no way into the house.

We eventually got in but another neighbour played a very risky game of almost falling through a roof to do so and it all took about an hour. I was VERY behind schedule.

When I was back in the kitchen, I pickled my chicory, made my duck stock, grilled my aubergines and dressed my rocket. I was back on track. As I was whizzing the almonds in my food processor for the cantuccini, it popped and stopped working! This was NOT on my schedule! It wouldn’t have been a very big deal had I not needed to whizz the duck breast fillets for my duck and porcini mushroom meatballs. My only option was my handheld whizzer thing. You know the type that you stick in a pot of soup to whizz all the lumps out?

So there I was, with a handheld whizzer thing, trying to whizz duck breasts. I got it done in the end but it wasn’t easy and bits of mashed up raw duck kept flying about and sticking to my face and arms.

I threw together an apparently Italian drink, minus the alcohol – elderflower cordial with mint, lemon and ice, then topped up with ginger beer.

I was nervous about attempting the Carta di Musica (music paper) as it needed to be rolled really really thin. It’s basically a paper thin cracker made with semolina. It went surprisingly well. I had some rocket and walnut pesto I had made that morning and after grilling some aubergines with parmesan, mozzarella and basil then rolling them up, I was almost ready to go. I just wrapped the end of a few grissini sticks in salami and pickled chicory and stuck them in a glass, put some dressed rocket into the braesola and rolled it up and put some truffle butter in a dish and we sat down and dug in. (Yes, you heard me right, truffle butter! I finally got some! And it was totally worth it.)

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At this point, I noticed that the caster sugar was on the side, unopened and realised that in my panic over the food processor breaking while I was making cantuccini, I had forgotten to put the sugar in! What I had was a savory almond dough! I whipped the biscuits out of the oven and binned them then mixed some sugar into my remaining dough. It didn’t really mix in very well though. I just wrapped the dough in clingfilm, fridged it and hoped for the best.

Next was the main course. We had a parmigiana, a roast tomato risotto, a duck and porcini meatball in a duck stock and tomato sauce, and scallops and pancetta on a bed of minty pea stuff.

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The parmigiana looks quite large and intimidating, I didn’t realise that when I cut it!

After eating everything and having a bit of chitchat and sneaking another meatball or two, it was time to address the cantuccini disaster. I cut my dough into six pieces and put it in the oven. It did not go well. Because there wasn’t enough dry stuff in the mixture, it didn’t bake hard enough. It also wasn’t sweet enough. I made us espressos in a percolator, which were really strong, and we dipped our biscuits in.

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I felt a bit feeble, with my savory, slightly soft almond thingys. So I implemented a back up plan. There was ice cream in the freezer! Mascapone, cherry and pistachio. Score! The dinner was rescued and we tucked in.

All in all, a success, I think.

Happy 200th post to me! What a fabulous way to celebrate.

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Considering anger management

I went swimming again this morning. I just got back and am feeling relatively calm again. Today’s swimming session wasn’t calm. It made me irate. It shouldn’t have. But it did.

As I approached the pool I saw that it was mostly empty, just the lap lane was full. The front crawl lane and nice and easy lanes were both empty. Also, the massive end lane which can take about four people only had one person in it. So I got in the nice and easy lane and thought I’d just have a relaxing swim today because my shoulder was aching a bit. I was about ten lengths in when it started. It all fell apart.

A lady approached the nice and easy lane so I moved from the middle of the lane to the side of it, to make space for her. She also moved to the side, the side I was on! She stood there fixing her goggles then just started swimming!

This picture shows the situation. I’m in the end lane (the top one). The next lane, for front crawl, is empty. The next lane is full and the end one is almost empty. The lady has approached the nice and easy lane, lined herself up with me exactly, leaving the other half of the lane empty and set off swimming straight at me! Doing front crawl!

DOING FRONT CRAWL! She’s come to share the nice and easy lane and is doing front crawl, when the front crawl lane is free! I quite literally went in to shock. I know it’s irrational but I was livid.

I just kept swimming straight, even though I know she must’ve expected me to move. Don’t people get it? When you’re new to the lane, you fit in with the people there, you don’t come in and shove people out of their space when they were there before you! Is it me? I’m worried about my anger, maybe I’m making up rules that are silly?

Anyway, I kept going, thinking she’d surely move. Surely. But she kept coming, doing a really clumsy version of front crawl, her hands kept splatting on the water like the noise you make when you belly flop. We eventually got so close that I had to stop and just tread water until she saw me. She did, obviously. She must’ve known I was there the whole time. She just looked at me like there was no problem.

“I guess I’ll move then,” I said, when it became clear that she hadn’t noticed anything wrong. I waited for the penny to drop and for her to go ‘O, it’s ok, I’ll move over here.’ But no. It was unbelievable. We were near the stairs so I just got out and moved to the large end section and started swimming but I was all out of sync and couldn’t concentrate.

I noticed the indoor pool was emptier so I went inside and started swimming. After about two lengths, four people came in together and squashed themselves into the lane I was in. One man was just standing at the end, holding on to the side, not moving. He was at the end of my section and didn’t move away when I approached. So I had to swim around him to get to the end then swim back around him to start my next length. He just stood there.

By this point, it was getting silly, I hated everyone in that pool and wished they’d all just bugger off and leave me to swim. It was time to take myself out of the situation…

After I got out, I tried to work out what was wrong with me. I’ve had a bit of a toothache and have a dentist appointment fast approaching. Has that made me angry? When it was quite hot yesterday, I struggled to not get grumpy with everyone, so maybe it’s the leftovers from that? I can’t work it out. People do silly things at the swimming pool all the time and are constantly stealing your space, so why was I so angry today? Maybe the Swim Gods are punishing me for missing Wednesday by stealing the Fun Factor from today’s swim? Or maybe I just shouldn’t be around people…?

I’m going to drink some herbal tea and do some yoga, I think.

Big fat swim challenge fail!

It’s my first week of Being Sporty. So I thought a good starting point was to challenge myself to do something active every day for a week. I decided to swim. I am calling it my Swim Challenge Week. No sooner have I spent hours deciding what to name my ‘challenge’ and I’ve already failed it. I am here to ask for your forgiveness.

Day 1 and 2 went well. I just went after work. On Day 3, I knew it was going to be a bit of a squeeze finding time for it as I was working early, going straight to Yaya’s 4th birthday party, then going straight to a leaving party for some work friends. But I thought I might be able to squeeze it in somewhere. Off I went to work, then off I went to the first party. There was a pirate ship cake! There was a new bike! There were fun temporary dinosaur tattoos! (I obviously got one too. A stegosaurus on my left arm. I have officially joined the Cool Gang.) There was an amazing racing car game and a shooting gun thingy with foam thingies to fire at stuff! It was all huge fun.

But it was getting a bit late. The work party wouldn’t go on forever and I would have to go straight from one to the other if I wanted to make it. But what about the challenge!? I couldn’t fail before I’d even been doing it for long! I panicked slightly. I thought about just writing a blog saying I’d done it anyway but I knew I’d be too nervous of being found out.

Then I had a brain wave. I’d go to a swimming pool nearby and have a quick swim here, then when I left later I could just go to the second party, without trying to swim in between. So I pottered off to the nearest swimming pool. It wasn’t my local and it wouldn’t be outdoor with lovely trees around it so I could pretend I was on holiday. But it would be fine for now. I walk to the main desk and say I’d just like to go swimming please.

The lady at the desk says… Are you ready for this?….

“Yeh, it’ll be open again in 45 minutes.”

Fail! I don’t know whether she realised that, with that one little sentence, she had ruined my Swim Challenge Week and, hence, my life. Life ruiner. Ruiner of lives. I couldn’t stay for 45 minutes to wait and then swim and then go back to the party! I would have missed all the fun by then!

I didn’t say anything for a while. Then I mumbled something or other about it being ok then I left. It was NOT ok. It was really annoying. There I was, ready to swim. Towel and costume in bag. Goggles at the ready (that’s right, I have invested in some goggles, this is getting serious). But no. No swimming for me.

I weighed up my options on the way back to Yaya’s party. Should I give it all up, blame others for my misfortune, start living off fast food and become house bound due to my depression over being thwarted in my efforts? Or should I swim every day for the rest of my life to make up for the guilt of having missed a day? Or should I just keep going tomorrow and not stress about the missed day? I’d like to say I chose the last option but in reality I’m leaning toward a mixture of the last two.

I swam this morning and did more than usual to satisfy the Swim Gods, who count your lengths and decide whether to punish you with a guilty conscience or not.

In other news = when I went swimming this morning, I was midway through doing a whole load of back stroke when I realised I still had my ‘cool’ stegosaurus tattoo on my arm, which I’d been lifting out of the water a lot. If anyone saw it, they must have thought I was dinosaur mad.

More news = Yaya got a bike for his birthday and had learned to ride it by the afternoon! Also, my name has become Lau-lau in babyspeak.

 

The problem with swimming

I am on Day 2 of Being Active week and, since there’s an outdoor swimming pool near my house, I thought I’d try to swim every day this week. Yesterday went well. The pool opens at 6.30am so I woke up at 6am and was in the pool by 6.40am. I thought it’d be good because I might miss the rush. I’ve been a few different times in the morning and it’s always pretty full. I was trying to find a time when it was a bit emptier so I could swim without crashing into people.

Of course my plan did not work. It was still quite full ten minutes after opening. ‘O well,’ I thought. ‘I’ll just swim in that one empty lane over there that no-one else is in. I wonder why no-one else is in it.’

Off I go, to the empty lane. All to myself. Ahhh, loads of space. Very exciting. I get in and I think maybe I’ll be a bit adventurous today, I’ll do back stroke. Seeing as there’s no-one else in the lane, I can swim without worrying that I’ll hit anyone. So I do one length, it’s quite tiring for someone who’s into the whole gentle-stroll scene.

And that’s when I see it, the sign at the top of the lane, in massive letters. ‘FAST LANE. FRONT CRAWL ONLY.’

O no! I’d just committed a swimming faux-pas. I’d done back stroke in the front crawl lane! I suddenly felt very self-conscious and looked around for another space in one of the slower lanes but there weren’t any. Disaster! I checked the indoor pool but that was even busier. I looked at the lifeguard, ready to be told off, but she hadn’t noticed. There was nothing for it but to keep going. Worse still, I had decided to do back stroke on my way up and breast stroke on my way back. So there I was, plodding along like a grandma, doing breast stroke in the FAST FRONT CRAWL ONLY lane. Boy, was I nervous! I tried doing front crawl for a length but it wasn’t great. I know my limitations. At the moment, back stroke and breast stroke are my comfort zone.

Inevitably, someone wanting to use the FAST FRONT CRAWL ONLY lane to do front crawl came into the lane so I went into the one next to me as a space had freed up there and immediately I was exposed to all the minor annoyances of swimming around other people.

Why is that person swimming in a diagonal line? They’ve cut across my bit and now I’ve got to move to get around them. And now I’ve lost my space.

I’m swimming in this bit! Why are you getting in the pool and swimming in a straight line toward me? I guess I’ll move out of the way although I was here first. And again, lost my space.

If you’re going to swim in the lap lane, don’t be the slowest swimmer ever, please. People are behind you, trying to get some exercise.

If you’re going to come here and swim in public, make sure you can do it first. The big splashing nonsense that appears to be your version of ‘swimming’ is making me fear for my life. You also just kicked me on your way past.

So you see the problems of swimming in a public pool!? It’s not as straight forward as you would think. You spend a long time, carving out a little space for yourself and then people come and invade it. Or you accidentally ignore the swimming social etiquette by swimming in the wrong lane. Or you get stuck next to someone who’s all arms and legs and you have to flatten yourself against the side when they pass. There’s lots to think about. I bet you thought swimming was a fairly simple activity? Well, I must warn you, don’t bring your brain with you if you want a simple swimming session. There’s too much to think about.

Today, I’m working early so will swim after work. Fingers crossed I won’t talk myself out of it (I’m very good at talking myself out of things).

Lots to get excited about!

Ok, I’ve been making a point to be more excited about things recently. I found some good stuff too. Joan Rivers’ birthday, Donald Duck’s TV debut, the Jubilee….

And today I have yet more to be excited about. This morning I went swimming. Again? I hear you all say, in admiration. Well yes, again. That’s three times in a swimming pool in the past few weeks. If I keep going at this rate, I’ll need to get some silly goggles and one of those tight caps in a loud colour, like yellow or red. O wait, there’s more. Not only did I go swimming, but I went in the outdoor pool today! How hardcore am I? Actually it’s lovely there because it’s got lovely trees all round it and the sky was blue and the sun was shining on my face and I could almost pretend I was on holiday. I also did a few more lengths than last time so am thinking of letting the Olympic Games committee know to count me in for next time around.

So after a fabulous start to the day I came home and baked some muffins…. Well at least it’s even stevens now. If I hadn’t been swimming then it would have just been the muffins and I think it’s generally frowned upon to just bake batches of muffins every day without at least pretending to do some exercise to have earned them.

They are banana bread muffins but I made them chocolate flavoured and put lots of cherries in them.

Another reason to be excited is because one of my other post-exam goals was to be more sociable and this weekend I have got that covered too. I am channeling my inner country bumpkin and spending the weekend in wellies with some uni friends.

Now the ‘lazy’ part of my username betrays itself a lot in my friendships. I am unfortunately quite a lazy friend. I’ve worked since I moved to London. Even around my full time undergraduate course, I was also working full time and volunteering part time. And when I was at uni, it was easy to see my friends because we were all in the same place. Then we all left, and my schedule didn’t get any less busy, and I didn’t make up for it by ensuring I kept in touch with everyone. So I’m very very guilty of having friendships that I don’t invest as much time in as I should. I will dedicate some time soon to seeing people more often.

That’s partly why this weekend will be so great. The main reason is of course that I’ll get to spend it hanging out in a tractor in wellies. That’s obviously the MAIN reason. But it will also be lovely to see friends again.

Double excitement then! Swimming and weekend away. Woop! I’m off to pack my going-away bag. Lots of waterproofs and warm jumpers! I love an adventure!

Omg, we could solve a mystery or something and then it really WOULD be adventure! I could live out one of my many childhood dreams, to be George from The Famous Five. Hopefully there’s a crime this evening when we arrive!